Difference between Code Mixing and Code Switching
Code in sociolinguistics simply refers to a language or a language variety. Both Code Mixing and Code Switching are in one way or another coming together of two or more languages or codes. Unlike Pidgins and Creoles, these are milder instances of language contact situation. By simple definition, Code Mixing is mixing of mostly words, but also phrases, clauses or even complete sentences of two languages or varieties. Code Switching is nothing but switching from one language to another to create a special effect. Note the addition of the phrase “special effect” in the definition of the latter. The key Difference between Code Mixing and Code Switching is indeed that Code Switching has a special, social pragmatic consequence while Code Mixing does not.
What are the Causes of Code Mixing and Code Switching?
Let us first talk about one of the major causes of Code Mixing and Code Switching in linguistics. Language contact is when two or more languages or communities speaking those languages come in contact with each other. Coming together of individuals or communities speaking distinct languages most often results into bilingualism within the communities or its members. In this age of wide spread global communication, you can imagine that a language or speech community can rarely be monolingual. Even if there were an isolated, monolingual community somewhere, it would still show bilingualism, although within the language varieties or dialects of that same language.
Hence, language contact and bilingualism are the prime causes of code mixing and code switching in speech communities. This contact situation is not only brought by physical interaction of the speakers. It can also be social media interaction. Some other examples that facilitate language contact are academic or non-academic reading in a non-native language.
Code Mixing and Code Switching Difference
Let us now go on and talk more about the Difference between Code Mixing and Code Switching with examples. Note that the terms code mixing and switching in sociolinguistics are so closely related that some linguists do not mind using them interchangeably. Both involve hybridization of words, phrases, clauses or even full sentences of two or more languages. The Difference between Code Mixing and Code Switching is that switching is done in a particular setting or for a particular purpose. And code mixing is done more out of linguistic requirement.
The language user switches codes while speaking in a certain style in front of another person. In one way, we kind of change identities while talking to different people. However, code mixing is more unintentional that way. We can mix one code with another when we do not know the correct translation of a particular word in another language. In fact, over the time, many code-mixed words become so frequent that they form a part of the language as loan or borrowed words. It is important that we look at a language synchronically to better study code mixing.
Also, language and cultures are closely related. Sometimes a concept expressed by one language is totally missing in another language. For example, the word jhootha in Hindi. The word is used for something like a utensil or food that someone has already used or tasted. This concept is totally missing in a language like English. So while speaking or writing in English, the user has no option but to use the word as it is. She can also choose to give a description of that word instead. However, if she knows that the other person knows Hindi as well, she will most likely use the word as it is without hesitation. You may want to read this interesting Quora discussion on how to say something is jhootha in English.
Examples for Difference between Code Mixing and Code Switching
Let us now try to understand Difference between Code Mixing and Code Switching by looking at some example scenarios. While speaking Hindi, many people use the word “teacher” instead of the word adhyapak. This is because we use it less frequently. In fact, it is quite unnatural to say it like that. Pure Hindi is spoken rarely these days. Many a times, it is humorous to speak pure Hindi.
Sometimes we do not mix words just to sound natural. It also happens that we forget words in our language. Or we do not know them at all. For instance, do you know the Hindi word for the famous sport “Cricket”? How about the word “Computer”? Please write the correct answer in the comments below if you do. But I feel, you most likely don’t.
The thing is that English is the language of Education. We use it everyday to achieve various purposes. We see it all around us. Hence, it is not unlikely that we remember more English words for common things. Code mixing of single words is very common in formal and informal speech. Code mixing of complete clauses and sentences is also done. Although it is a little less frequent.
Now, let us move on to another scenario. A native Hindi speaker is speaking Hindi with his friends. All of a sudden, her boss comes and now she starts speaking English. This is switching. It is done intentionally because language users feel appropriate to communicate in a certain way in certain situations.
The example I gave above is an example of inter-sentential code switching. Code switching of single words can also be done. This is called tag code switching. Let us look at an example of tag code switching also. Consider a native English person giving speech in front of Spanish audience. The audience understands both English and Spanish. But just to induce comfort, she greets them with Hola instead of “Hello”. And says the rest of the things in English. She intentionally uses the word Hola to create a special effect in her speech. Hence, it would not be an example of code mixing but code switching.
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